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How to be more productive: Cut down your TV time

After a ten hour day in the office (it should have been eight, but hey, you have deadlines), sometimes there's no better way to unwind than with a glass of wine and a good re-run of Grand Designs. And Come Dine with Me. And Downton Abbey. And back-to-back episodes of Top Gear.

Suddenly, a half hour unwind turns into an entire evening of staring hypnotically at your 50in plasma. When realistically the average person only has two hours spare to relax after work before bed, it's a worrying fact that those 120 minutes can easily be lost watching Kevin McCloud watch builders hammer planks of wood into a muddy building site.

So how do you stop? TV is an addiction, one that you've likely spent a lifetime nursing. But never fear – we've got a few tips on how to kick the habit and spend your downtime in a far more constructive (and fun) way.

Don't go cold turkey

If you cut out TV altogether, not only will you make the transition a lot harder for yourself, but you will genuinely miss out on some great content. Not all TV is bad, but like someone waving an M&S cheesecake in front of your face when you're on a diet, it should be consumed in moderation.

Try not watching TV for just one day a week, and instead replace that time with another activity that's just as fun. Read a book, take up a musical instrument, book a class, spend time with your kids (it'll teach them to make their own fun too). Over time, you can increase there are the number of days per week when you don't watch TV until you're at an amount where you're happy.

Stop looking for new shows

When one of your favourite shows comes to an end, don't immediately go on the hunt for something to replace it. Drama series can rumble on for up to seven seasons, and if each episode is an hour long with a single run lasting for fourteen episodes, that's an entire working week spent glued to a TV screen. Watch more than one show, and that's months of productive time that you're wasting (gosh, I sound like your Mother).

Enlist the TV timer

It's a little known fact that most TVs come with a timer feature. If you don't trust your own willpower, you can decide how much time you should be spending watching TV and it will automatically switch off when you pass your limit. Of course, you could just immediately turn the TV on again, but can you live with your own guilty conscience?

Write a TV diary

For some reason, writing down in permanent ink exactly how much time you spend in front of the screen really puts into perspective your habit. Jotting in a notepad "2am – One hour spent watching a re-run of How I Met Your Mother" really does force a certain amount of introspection.

Sell any unnecessary TVs

If you have a TV in your living room, another in your kitchen, one in your bedroom and another in your study, you may have a problem. Being constantly surrounded by temptation makes kicking any habit hard, so the simple equation is cut down on the number of TVs and you'll cut down on TV time. Do you really need more than one television in the house? If the answer is yes, at least try and make watching it more difficult. Put it in an uncomfortable place. Like the garage. In front of a wooden stool.

Change your TV package

So selling off your unwanted TVs could net you a tidy profit, but that's not the only way to make money. Most people watch more TV because they have more channels at their disposal. Downgrade your subscription package, and you'll have a lot more time on your hands with a lot more money. Make sure that the channels you do have access to are the truly interesting ones that feed your brain rather than numb it, like documentaries, news and science networks.